The Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. NOFA/Mass welcomes everyone who cares about food, where it comes from and how it’s grown

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Soil

We will have time to assess bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes in soil and compost samples from several participants. I will demonstrate practical microscope methods, and interpret results, suggesting needed steps to improve the soil for better crop production, or to maintain soil life, if good balances are observed.

Soil and dirt are not synonyms. Learn the differences and learn how returning beneficial organisms to dirt can initiate the conversion back into soil, producing a host of benefits for plant production and for the farmer. We will examine the cast of characters needed to shepherd this transition; understand why these organisms can reduce water use by up to 70% in certain cases; strategize how to reduce or eliminate the need for mineral fertilizers; and plan to foster soil conditions where weeds, pests and diseases don't have an edge on our crops.

Presenters in the 2014 NOFA Summer Conference’s eight-part “Soil Carbon and Climate” Track examine the ways in which organic farming can address the climate crisis. These workshops detail farming methods for vegetables, fruits, nuts, forage, and feed that provide a resilient food source while returning carbon molecules from the atmosphere to the soil.

We are very pleased and fortunate to be able to host Christine Jones of Australia for two NOFA/Mass events on Monday, September 1 (Labor Day) in Boston, and on Tuesday, September 2 in Amherst. Please make a note to save the date. We are still in the planning stages, but our idea is to have the Boston event start with a tour of a cutting-edge urban agricultural project, followed by an afternoon of classroom-type instruction. We are looking for the best candidate for the tour location – please advise.

The work of Allan Savory and others has shown that holistically planned grazing can restore soils and wildlife habitat, improve the water cycle, feed people, and sustain rural livelihoods.  Hundreds of ranches and farms on four continents have restored land usinggrazing as their primary tool even in very dry climates with only seasonal rainfall.

What about New England?  Can grazing be used successfully here as well?

What the heck is all this science stuff? Can't I just throw seeds at dirt? I will be teaching the basics of soil fertility, including the physical, mineral, and biological components of soil. I'll cover clay, organic matter, exchange capacity, soil testing, and soil microbes and how these things relate to plant growth.

I always look hungrily for Jerry Brunetti’s articles in Acres magazine. He has a thoroughly scientific, while poetic and practical way of discussing soil, soil health, and biological systems. I was not let down with his new book, The Farm as Ecosystem.

There’s a reverberating buzz around composting in Boston! I jumped into my compost career after seeing an overwhelming desire for more composting at the Boston Urban Agriculture Kickoff and Visioning meeting in January 2012. With Article 89, Boston’s urban ag zoning codification, nearing implementation, the time for compost is now.
 
Graeme Sait

Graeme Sait

The 2014 Soil and Nutrition Conference will feature Graeme Sait – one of the world’s leading experts on biological farming. From Sunday to Tuesday, February 2-4, 2014 in Somerville, MA, Sait along with his copresenter, Joel Williams, will present a version of his internationally acclaimed Certificate in Sustainable Agriculture, which many participants have described as life changing.

Soil Eco-Systems are an interwoven web of biochemistry, biology, plant diversity and native geology. When these legs of this stool are appropriately managed, soils become terrestrial coral reefs that allow plants to become protective and resistant to pests. This supra-organism is the benefactor of optimal nutrition for humans and livestock.

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